Tucker Company Worldwide’s Jeff Tucker says refineries can save millions by 'taking control of their inbound freight’

The Business Journal had an opportunity to speak with Jeff Tucker, CEO of Tucker Company Worldwide, at Breakbulk Americas 2017. Tucker’s company participated in the conference for the first time, although it has a rich history of being America’s oldest privately held freight brokerage. Tucker Company Worldwide is a family held, third generation Corporation spanning over 56 years. And although it is headquartered in Haddonfield, New Jersey, the third-party logistics services company helps businesses all over North America increase their profitability and improve their efficiency.

“We’ve got customers all over the country, so we truly are national and North American in scope and in service,” Tucker said, adding that Tucker Company Worldwide services several businesses in Southeast Texas, including some refineries in the area.

The company has several different freight categories it manages, but two major areas caught our attention. One is, ironically, not breakbulk, but one the company has invested a lot of its time and dollars in recently — pharmaceuticals, healthcare products and temperature-controlled food.

“They’re just as challenging in many ways to handle as some of the high and wide project cargo loads that we handle because there is security people that we’ve got to adhere to, there’s tracking devices on the trucks, there’s thieves trying to steal the stuff, the temp control unit can turn off and spoil the load and burn you for a million dollars of product and all kinds of things,” Tucker said.

Another freight category, which brought Tucker Company Worldwide to Breakbulk Americas for the first time, is its heavy haul and specialized side of the business. This clientele of Tucker’s hits a little closer to home — oil refinery and energy industry freight.

“We decided we’ve got to start investing in that side of the business and there’s no better place than Breakbulk for that part of our company,” Tucker said.

According to its website, Tucker Company Worldwide has served the energy industry for over 50 years and even has clients that have been utilizing Tucker for over 50 years.

Tucker said that the company works primarily with oil refiners, but also coke facilities and ethanol plants. Tucker has exclusively managed the inbound transportation of non-letter/parcel shipments to some of the nation’s largest oil refineries for over a dozen years, arranging everything from springs, valves and miscellaneous parts, to time sensitive over-dimensional shipments.

“All the metal you see and all the pieces in a refinery need to be replaced every few years once their useful life has been completed or they are upgrading and what we do for our customers that we service is that we manage their inbound. For example, their POs to their valve manufacturers or to their heat exchangers or (to whatever supplier they’re using.)”

Tucker said one thing that his company and others like his that have taken control of managing the logistics of refineries’ inbound freight have noticed is that vendors or suppliers will add an additional 10-20 percent to the cost of the goods, making the delivery of freight to the refinery a profit center for the suppliers.

“The only time you can really get up to that 20 percent on a regular basis is on project cargo that needs permits, escorts, and pull trucks, and special equipment that is only in 5 or 6 different states — the vast majority of it is fractions – say 3 percent, 2 percent, or 4 percent. So, if you as a CFO can say I’ve got a refinery that does 200,000 gallons and I’m going to spend $20 million on capital this year, if you could save $2 million, that’s money in your pocket,” Tucker said.

Generally speaking, at the refinery, materials management or procurement can save between 5 and 15 percent on the cost of the goods that they are purchasing by utilizing Tucker’s services, he said.

Visibility is another issue Tucker sees when his company takes over inbound freight management for refineries for the first time. Many never knew when something they ordered was going to come in.

“Most of the time they have no clue, and it’s not communicated to the people that need to know it,” he said. Many of the customers Tucker works with have previously been entirely dependent on their suppliers during the delivery process.

“They’re entirely dependent on their suppliers to select carriers safely, to select appropriately insured carriers, to select carriers that are authorized to get into the gate … they’re just trusting that it’s going to happen and generally when the customer comes to us it’s because it’s not happening,” Tucker said.

Tucker Company Worldwide works as a liaison between vendor/shippers and the refineries to make sure the freight gets there when it’s needed, handling logistics and making sure costs stay as low as possible along the way, which some cases even helps the plants avoid shutdowns, Tucker said.

“So, in our model, no matter which freight company they’re going to use, there is one portal that shows the whereabouts of every PO and what day and time you should expect it,” he said.

Tucker Worldwide saves customers money by utilizing customer’s data and its supplier’s data to begin to identify how it can capture the least-costly yet most expeditious way of shipping a product.

“We use data and we know exactly the moment and store the moment that the order comes in and we measure the time from the time the order comes in to the time the load has to pick up. We measure the difference in both the way that it was delivered — the method we had to use to deliver and what it would have cost if we were notified with enough time,” Tucker said.

Tucker said he was impressed with his first visit to Breakbulk Americas in October.

“We liked the experience, we liked the venue, we liked the traffic at our booth and the level of interest,” he said.

For more information about Tucker Company Worldwide Inc., visit www.tuckerco.com.

Photo by Kevin King - CEO of Tucker Company Worldwide Jeff Tucker speaks during a Breakbulk Showcase session Oct. 19 at Breakbulk Americas 2017 in Houston.